Sterling Silver Information

   Home  |  Contact


What Is Tarnish

Tarnish is the darkened appearance that can appear on silver as time goes by.  It results when our modern, polluted air comes into contact with your silver.  Of particular significance is sulfur in the air and hydrogen sulfide gas, which is usually introduced into the environment by cars and other combustion sources.  The effect is oxidation on the surface of the silver items. 

It has been said that tarnish was unheard of before the Industrial Revolution, which introduced the large scale burning of fossil fuels.

Tarnish first appears as a yellow tint.  As the condition worsens, the silver will turn tan, then brown, then black.  Opt for frequent cleanings to nip tarnish in the bud.

When a piece of jewelry is worn often, our everyday use of it can inadvertently keep it polished.  However, many things in our environment can accelerate the tarnishing process.  These include contact with rubber bands, which should never be used to tighten lose rings or bind the individual pieces in a jewelry set.  The level of acidity in our skin, which can be altered by some medications, can also create an environment conducive of tarnish.

One point of caution. If your silver has a purple stain, do not confuse this as tarnish.  It is probably firestain, caused by oxidized copper.  This is most likely to be seen on very old silver pieces.  Consult a professional silversmith for guidance on handling this situation.  Cleaning firestain with a tarnish removal cream could exacerbate the problem.




Index Of Articles

"Silver 101"
"Sources of Silver"

"Sterling Silver Defined'"
"Silver Standards"

"Silver Marks and Hallmarks"

"Silver Testing Kits"

"The Silversmith"
"Silver Coins"

Plating & Treatments

"Silver Plated Jewelry"
"Gold Vermeil Jewelry"
"Rhodium Plated Sterling"
"Antiqued Silver"

Fake Silver Jewelry

"Alpaca Silver Jewelry"
"German Silver Jewelry"

Silver Jewelry Styles

"Bali Silver"
"Indian Silver"
"Thai Hill Tribe Silver"
"Tibetan Silver"
"Turkish Silver"

Silver Allergies

"Silver/Nickel Sensitivities"
"Hypoallergenic Jewelry"

Recent Developments

"Argentium® Sterling Silver"

"Silver PMC®"

"The Origins of Tarnish"

"Tarnish Removal"

"Firescale (Firestain)"

"Proper Silver Storage"

Suggest A Topic!